Energy, cities and territories

Cities and territories present at the same time a challenge and an opportunity for climate change policies. Today, European cities are responsible for about 70% of the overall primary energy consumption, and this share is expected to increase to 75% by 2030.

As the hubs of economic activity, cities drive the vast majority of the world’s energy use and are major contributors to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Nowadays, roughly half of the world’s population is living in urban areas, and this share is increasing over time, projected to reach 60% by 2030. Cities are responsible for the largest consumption of energy resources worldwide – between 60 to 80% – and account for a roughly equal share of global CO2 emissions.

How cities grow and operate has an impact on its energy demand and thus GHG emissions. Urban density and spatial organization are key factors that influence energy consumption, especially in the transportation and building sectors. Tools and methods are developed, using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and 3D models for the spatial representation of energy demand, production and CO2 emissions.

Lifestyles, in particular the way people commute, are also crucial in the generation of CO2 emissions. Cities’ emissions can vary depending on the inhabitants´ lifestyles, spatial form and public transport availability. In other words, it is not cities, or urbanisation per se, that contribute to GHG emissions, rather the way people move around the city, the sprawl that they produce, the way they use energy at home and how buildings are heated, making cities the great consumers of energy. We actively work in the field of energy consumption behaviour and the impact of intervention measures to reduce energy consumption.

Cities and regional governments – both small and large - are well positioned to tackle the new energy related challenges, particularly those relating to spatial development and the built environment, transportation, natural resources management, building and urban utilities and are responsible for the release of the “Climate Change Protection Program”. Energy policies are analyzed and their impact on reducing energy consumption and improving energy efficiency is evaluated.